Janelle Monáe’s Queer “Pynk” Music Video Is Here To Wreak More Havoc On Your Heart and Body

When Janelle Monáe dropped the new bisexual national anthem, “Make Me Feel,” back in February, I was ready to call it in for the rest of the year. There was certainly no way that anyone would be able to top that.

Then Janelle decided that she wasn’t done wreaking havoc on my heart just yet. Today she dropped her third single off of the soon to be released Dirty Computer. It’s called “Pynk” and it’s a black queer feminist love letter to springtime, being femme, black and brown women’s bodies, and vaginas — all divorced from the male gaze, male interests, and the way those topics are generally treated in popular music created by men.

Once again, Monáe and her maybe-probably-girlfriend Tessa Thompson are center stage. The video starts off in homage to another famous pop culture feminist twosome, Thelma and Louise. Tessa and Janelle have exchanged the movie’s iconic blue Thunderbird convertible for a pink one as they cruse through the desert, pulling up to the “Pynk Restaurant and Motel” during a rose painted sunset.

With a chorus of snapping black women dancers around them, Janelle changes into pants that are symbolically designed to look like the lips of a vagina, as Tessa Thompson literally COMES OUT FROM BETWEEN HER LEGS! This is a very sexual moment for us all. Tessa Thompsons’s face winks while sandwiched between Janelle’s thighs, and Janelle sweetly sings about the “Pink like the lips around your, maybe”, “Pink where the tongue goes down, maybe”. She reminds the listeners grooving to her music that “Pink is the paradise found”. I’m no expert or anything, but I’m going to say that we have a lot of loving each other’s pink going on. In a knowing nod to their maybe-possible relationship, Janelle switches tactics, singing “Pink is the truth you can’t hide” as Tessa disappears back between Monáe’s vagina clad legs.

Later, the video’s dancers change into underwear briefs with exaggerations their natural pubic hair visible on the sides. The camera zooms in on the underwear’s hot pink dripped slogan, “I Bite Back”. Fuck yes. And there are literally a thousand other symbolic imagery that I want to talk about with you all! PLUS Janelle and Tessa end the video gently holding each other as they watch the pink sunset on the beach! As if it’s the softest end to the perfect romantic comedy, and not the beginning of the revolution. Maybe it’s both? Who knows?

In the description of the video on Youtube, Monáe tells us that “PYNK is a brash celebration of creation. self love. sexuality. and pussy power! PYNK is the color that unites us all, for pink is the color found in the deepest and darkest nooks and crannies of humans everywhere.” Monáe is celebrating her own body, as well as those of people around the world who are subject to similar stigmas and oppressions. (It’s important to note, however, that not all women have vaginas, and not everyone who has a vagina is a woman, a fact Tessa has been nodding to on Twitter today; and Janelle mentioned specifically on Twitter tonight.)

All that said, I’m ready to dance at Janelle Monáe’s sleepover together as we prepare to celebrate the Dirty Computer drop date (April 27!) as a national holiday.

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Carmen Phillips

Carmen is Autostraddle's Editor-in-Chief and a Black Puerto Rican femme/inist writer. She claims many past homes, but left the largest parts of her heart in Detroit, Brooklyn, and Buffalo, NY. There were several years in her early 20s when she earnestly slept with a copy of James Baldwin’s “Fire Next Time” under her pillow. You can find her on twitter, @carmencitaloves.

Carmen has written 552 articles for us.


  1. i am extremely impressed at the speed at which you wrote an ENTIRE ARTICLE about this! and a really good one at that

    also, this video? yes. yes yes yes. the best. can’t wait to see what she does next!

  2. Janelle is truly a queen, and I straight-up gasped multiple times during this video. Especially loved the visual reference to Trump with the “I grab back” panties. Also, as always, 1000% here for playful/tender Janessa love. Thanks for writing this up *so* fast, Carmen.

    Wondering how trans women felt about this vid, though. I’m sort of mixed — listening to the lyrics, the song itself seems to be very specific (how she feels about a specific woman’s…pynk bits), and also to have a sort of inclusive message of like, we are all pink inside (tongue, organs, whatever, not just about vaginas). But then the vid does sort of have an “all women have vaginas” feel? And/but it sort of reads to me as her claiming the pink pussy hat aesthetic of the women’s march, and making it explicitly black and queer/making a counterargument to people who claimed that the hats weren’t inclusive of all women. Which is v cool! But then does that also shut down the valid claims of people who felt excluded by pussy hats for super legitimate reasons? I don’t feel at all qualified to form an opinion on this (as a cis white woman), but/and I’d love to hear what others thought.


    When I kick the bucket (which will happen sooner rather than later if Janelle keeps 20gayteening like this), please project this video onto my headstone on a loop forever.

  4. I’ve waited all my life for this moment. Put off getting tattoos so it could culminate to this point in time. My skin is a blank canvas for “Pink, like the tongue that goes down. Pink, like the paradise found.”

  5. Is it ridiculous that this made me cry? I’m still emotional. A whole song. About vaginas. About how beautiful they are. legitimately i’m overwhelmed. i somehow feel really really validated right now.

  6. These are the songs that are meant to create shock waves round the world. I mean for real. These are songs for us women whether we be queer or not.
    But the songs that will make waves are the ones where men will sing that they can’t wait to f**k us and set our p*ssy on fire and all that crap.

    Janelle Monae is the hero we always knew we needed.

  7. After watching this, I feel very naive right now for thinking that Make Me Feel was “the” coming out song from the album.

    20gayteen continues to raise the bar higher than I have ever thought possible and it’s only April.

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